So, another Christmas is upon us. At this moment, everyone is either enjoying a warm, cozy morning opening presents with the family, sharing in a time of celebration at their favorite place of worship or simply nursing a raging hangover from a night of too much Dirty Eggnog and mistletoe. No matter what you are doing or who you are spending it with, I’d like to wish everyone a very happy and joyous day. As a Christian, I celebrate my faith and my family, so I am doubly blessed on this day. However, I am not here to speak about my faith. If I am to share anything with you today, it would simply be my view on what is the greatest gift we can have today.
In the wake of one of the most horrifying, abominable acts that could possibly be imagined, one is left with a vacant area in your soul, a void that your mind and heart can never fill nor map the depth and breadth of. As we scramble to comprehend our loss or our terror, we find seek solace in the oddest of places.
Last night, my wife and I went to see “The Hobbit: an Unexpected Journey“. It was an incredible movie, one that I’ve been looking forward to for a very long time. Just ask my wife. There are purists that will say that the movie embellishes The Hobbit and discount the movie for this reason. I reply that everything we see in the movie was based on either segments taken from The Lord of the Rings or from other works by Tolkien in the world of Middle Earth. In the final analysis, it was a brilliant movie and a wonderfully uplifting balm for a day of evil that truly could have been plucked from the depths of Mordor.
I very much want to write something about the Connecticut tragedy, but the sheer horror of it is rendering me incapable of anything more than an enraged diatribe about the skewed culture and political excrement that has made this possible. There are plenty of people who will have what they think are informed opinions about what has occurred or will dust off their tired, insignificant talking points to defend soome indefensible thing. I counter with twenty-six faces that never had the opportunity to see the morning sun or wonder at the presents under their Christmas trees or even smile again. I advised everyone take a page from the President’s book and give these souls their deserved moment of silence and introspection. I plan to discuss this, but I want to give the police more time to truly investigate this monstrous, inhuman act before I say anything. Instead, I’m going to opt for a more optimistic topic: The Hobbit.
One of the most consistently baffling discussions I heard while in Journalism school in college was the complaint that there were no new stories, that movies and books essentially were just rehashing the same story over and over again. These people bemoaned the lack of creativity and of innovation in the realm of storytelling and used this ‘fact’ as a reason to discount any narrative that resembled another book or movies. I never quite understood the merit of this argument.
On the one hand, I can agree with their assertion that there are very few truly new narratives that are created. However, I don’t see that as indicative of some great decline of modern day storytelling, not by itself. As an adherent of Joseph Campbell’s view that myths are recurrent and universal (see The Hero with a Thousand Faces or The Power of Myth), I often see common threads in the movies I watch or the books I read. Innately, we are all drawn to similar stories, things that challenge our perspectives or reinforce our beliefs. In general, we love to see the hero win, the dark enemy fail, the lovers consummate their romance, and the end result fall into the balance of good over evil. Occasionally, we like to be challenged, for tragedy to tinge the outcome or for failure to be a form of winning in and of itself. We always love these stories, even when they are repeated, for they reinforce an instinctual longing in us. I can listen to any number of orchestras or choral groups perform Orff’s Carmina Burana and it is usually just as invigorating as any other. The re-interpretation does not disturb me.
I loved words. I love to sing them
and speak them and even now,
I must admit, I have fallen
into the joy of writing them.
12:01 am this morning marked the end of NaNoWriMo this year. If you’ve visited the site this month, you’ll know that my life has been consumed with participating in the event. While I was eager to see how I would do within the strictures of NaNoWriMo itself, I was using this challenge as a measure to see how ready I was to begin writing, to cast aside all of my fears and doubts, to actually do something, to pursue something inside me that I’ve long wanted to pursue. For (literally) decades, I’d listened to my inner demons and to people I had the ignorance to associate myself with and let them tell me how bad my ideas were, how I would never succeed at this. I was too foolish or cowardly to challenge their opinions and forgot for many years this was something I wanted.. needed.. to do.